Do You Love or Hate Back to School Supply Shopping?

The smell of 24 newly sharpened pencils is in the air – it must be time for Back to School supply shopping.

Back to School Supply Shopping - Do you Love it or Hate it? | Steve Spangler Science Blog
Is that a chisel-tipped low odor marker?

It’s an emotional and expensive time of year for parents. Their babies are taking another step towards adulthood – entering a new grade and sometimes even a new school – be it kindergarten, middle school, high school or college.

Don’t forget the added pressure of registration fees, bus passes and so many other expenses flying at parents from all directions.

Add to the todos a complicated list of required school supplies and you have the makings of hurricane mama spinning through the aisles at Target.

Over the years I’ve heard a lot of parents complain about the number of pencils or glue sticks needed or size or materials of notebooks and folders. The question is always WHY? Why so many glue sticks? Why a SAFE-T 12″ View-Thru flexible Inch/CM ruler?

Here’s an example of a real school supply list I found online:

        • 2 Boxes Facial Tissues, 160 count box
        • 1 Ruler – SAFE-T, 12″, View-Thru, flexible, Inch/CM
        • 1 Calculator, Texas Instrument TI-108
        • 2  Notebook Filler Paper – Wide ruled, 150 pages, 8×10.5
        • 1 Scissors – Fiskars for Kids, 5″ pointed tip
        • 1  Notebook – Composition book, Mead, 100 pages, wide ruled (black and white)
        • 2  Glue stick, washable school glue (1.4 oz.)
        • 1 Pencil case – Zipper, Mesh pocket, 3 ring for binder
        • 9 Folders – 2 pocket, with fasteners, plastic, no paper – 2 yellow, 2 blue, 2 green, 2 red, 1 purple
        • 1  Markers – Crayola, 8 color pack, thin line (classic colors)
        • 2  Pen – BIC Round Stic, ballpoint, medium point, single (blue)
        • 4 Pen – BIC Round Stic, ballpoint, medium point, single (red)
        • 1 Index Cards – Ruled, 3×5, 100 count
        • 1  Protractor – SAFE-T “View-Thru,” 6″, clear
        • 2  Dry Erase Markers-Expo Low-Odor, 4 bold colors with chisel tip, and eraser

No wonder parents are losing it.

Those plastic, pocketed, 3-prong folders in specific colors are usually the items that drive me to the edge of sanity. How many stores do I have to visit before I can find 1 purple, plastic folder, with prongs and pockets?

Parents have a vision of teachers compiling these lists as they wring their hands and cackle about the torture their new parents suffer in August.

A recent post on People I Want to Punch in the Face vowed tongue-in-cheek revenge on a merciless teacher’s school supply list. The author claims it is a joke, but all parents understand the emotion, stress and general frustrating truth behind it. We’ve all been there.

Teachers can’t possibly choose the 8-crayon packet ($3.99) because they know the 24-crayon pack will be on sale for $0.25 just to spite parents and make them pay more.

Anytime I’ve talked to a teacher about the unattainable treasure on the supply list, they have a suggestion or a replacement. They don’t hold those lists to the letter – the 24 pack of crayons is usually just fine.

Teachers are also facing the stress of pulling together their classrooms and collecting supplies they need but may not have the budget.

Parents stop stressing and complaining over the supply lists. Work with your teacher and compromise. Stop taking the list as the end all vex from teachers to parents. They don’t intend it, I promise.

If you are a teacher,  share your thoughts and processes for creating the supply lists. Do you have a say in it? Does the school or ultimately the district that develops these lists? How strict are you with exact supplies?

If you are a parent, share your frustrations and let our teachers know what you are facing out there in the school supply jungle.

Let’s stop complaining and start working as a team.
We are all in this together.

While you do that, I’ll be out hunting down low odor Expo chisel-tipped markers…

 

Susan Wells Blog EditorSusan Wells is a mom of two girls who are growing up way too fast. She is the Marketing Manager and Blog Editor for Steve Spangler Science. In past lives, Susan has been a social media manager, web developer, web content manager, online news writer,  photographer, classical and jazz bass player and live sound technician. 

 

 

#SpanglerSelfie Winners!

Well, you’ve done it!

You’ve allowed yourself to be sucked in by the selfie craze… and we LOVE IT!!  We are ecstatic that you are enjoying Steve Spangler Science product, so much that you have chosen to include them in your #SpangerSelfie!

Our Spangler Team definitely had a tough time judging all the wonderful selfies that we have received.  But we finally came up with  the top picks.

Here are your #SpanglerSelfie Winners:

Brandy Kauffman‘s wonderful Worms Selfie!

Is that a worm sneeze?
Is that a worm sneeze?

 

Maliha Iqubal‘s super-staticy, plasma ball selfie!

Maliha and her daughter playing with one of their favorite experiments - the plasma ball!
Maliha and her daughter playing with one of their favorite experiments – the plasma ball!

 

Jessica & Ashlin Cook‘s fun-tasticly fizzy selfie!

First Grader Ashlin Cook gets fizzy with some pop rocks and soda!
First Grader Ashlin Cook gets fizzy with some pop rocks and soda!

Chris Carpec Trinckes‘ crazy conference creations selfie!

Chris with her conference pals making windbag structures at SITR14!
Chris with her conference pals making windbag structures at SITR14!

Kara Dahlberg‘s colorful Bubbling Concoction selfie!

Colors are so bright, you gotta wear shades!
Colors are so bright… you gotta wear shades! (Extra Points if you can name the song reference! Anybody?)

 

Isn’t alliteration fun?

Congratulations winners!  Now it’s time to get ready for some cool Spangler products to head your way! All winners were notified via email and accepted their prizes.

Much appreciation to everyone who submitted a #SpanglerSelfie!  We hope that more of you out there will continue to send  and cpost your favorite photos (selfies and standard) of you with your science experiments.

Need more science experiments to fill your days?? Itching for some of our new Sick Science Kits??  Well good news, we have some!! Why not try out the Egg in a Bottle , the Rising Water Secret or the Density Divers?

As always, don’t forget to leave comments below to let us know what you think!

Backyard Archaeology

There is genuine archaeology in your back yard; you don’t have to travel to Greece, or Pompeii, or the La Brea Tar Pits to discover archaeological artifacts and fossils, you know.  More often than you think, these things (maybe not the dinosaur bones, but you never know!) can be found in the back yard.  Let’s talk about artifacts first and save the fossils for next time.

arrowheads kn gravel These two arrowheads, for example, were found by my husband and my son on two different occasions as they plowed and planted our garden. Arrowheads and spearheads will often turn up when the earth is turned up!

We lived out in the country in a big house that sat well off the road, and every year we had to buy a huge load arrowheads2of limestone gravel. After the gravel was spread over the quarter-mile driveway, the excited search began. Almost without fail, at least one arrowhead would turn up in the load. Finding it kept my two children busy for at least three days, and while they almost always found at least one, sometimes there were as many as six or seven.  The arrowheads were often chipped or broken, but there were always enough intact ones to make the search thrilling.

What my family liked best, though, was walking through the woods behind our house and glancing down to see a spearhead.  This didn’t happen often, but it happened often enough that even today, we all walk through the woods with our eyes on the ground.  Of course, this is also how people here find morel mushrooms in season, so, you know, double coolness.

spearheadsWe lived in that house for over twenty years, and in that time my kids and my husband collected a lot of arrowheads.  Only a few spearheads, but a lot of arrowheads.

This experience was an incredibly awesome combination of general science, history, archaeology, local culture, geography, geology, craftsmanship, man-made tools, warfare, cooking, biology, indigenous people, and observation.

As are most lessons if they’re done right.

Jane GoodwinJane Goodwin is a professor of expository writing at Ivy Tech Community College, a hands-on science teacher for College for Kids, a professional speaker and writer, and a social media liaison  for Steve Spangler Science.  She wanted to be a ballerina and an astronaut, but gravity got the better of her.

Back Yard Geology: Crinoid Stems

There are crinoid stems everywhere; they were once so prolific they covered the bottom of the sea like a crop of wheat! The Midwest was once part of a great prehistoric sea, and where there is a sea, there are sea creatures. Where there WAS a sea, there are sea creature fossils. And limestone, which is a sedimentary rock made up, mostly, of calcium-rich fragments of ancient sea animal skeletons, specifically crinoids.

crinoid  Crinoids are often called “sea lilies” because of their resemblance to an underwater flower.  Crinoids were not plants, however; crinoids were animals.  Madeleine L’Engle wrote about farandolae in A Wind in the Door, and her character Sporos and his fellows were meant to resemble crinoids.  Literature and science!

There are still some types of crinoids, but it’s the extinct crinoids that crinoid stemswe’ll be talking about here.  If you live in the Midwest, you already know what part of an ancient crinoid looked like because you probably had a pile of crinoid stems crinoid coinssomewhere in your bedroom, and a necklace of threaded crinoid “coins” around your neck in the summertime.  (If you ever hear of or see a necklace or rosary threaded with St. Cuthbert’s beads, you’re looking at crinoids!)  (Sometimes crinoid stems and coins are called Indian Beads, but that’s very misleading, even though some  Native Americans did use crinoid stems and coins to make jewelry.)

If you have access to a lapidary (rock tumbler), crinoids shine up beautifully!  They can be painted, too!

Don’t forget that there are still crinoids in the ocean; they’re echinoderms, like starfish and sea urchins.

The ancient, now-extinct crinoids are seldom found as an intact fossil crinoids- the arms were too fragile and the pieces were scattered by ocean currents.  But the stalk, or stem, can be found, fossilized, all over the Midwest.  In fact, it’s the state fossil of Missouri!

The next time you’re walking by a creek or stream, take off your shoes and wade right in there.  You’ll probably feel the crinoid stems under your feet.  Start a collection.  If you look really closely, you might even find a fossil imprint of an intact crinoid!

You might also find geodes and arrowheads and caddis shells, but that’s another post.

Take a walk outside.  Look around at all the stone.  Imagine what the land where you are standing might have looked like a million years ago.  Everything you see today is here now because of what was there then.

 

Jane GoodwinJane Goodwin is a professor of expository writing at Ivy Tech Community College, a hands-on science teacher for College for Kids, a professional speaker and writer, and a social media liaison  for Steve Spangler Science.  She wanted to be a ballerina and an astronaut, but gravity got the better of her.

Teacher Passion Project – Get to Know Your Teacher

Steve Spangler Science wants to team up with students and parents to make a lucky teacher’s Passion Project come to life! Turn an idea into an experience with the perfect opportunity to really KNOW who your teacher is and all about their passions.

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All of us at Steve Spangler Science have a passion for ongoing learning, a passion for making science fun, a passion for teaching a love of science and a passion for educators.

Teacher Passion Project - Get To Know Your Teacher's Passion

We are introducing a new campaign for the 2014-2015 school year – the Teacher Passion Project. This is an opportunity for students and parents to get to know their teacher and make their passion a reality.

The first step in the Teacher Passion Project is for you to get to know your new teacher.

Find their passion. Is it Algebra? Short stories?  American History?  Writing Haiku?

Or … SCIENCE?

Teacher Passion Project - Discover Your Teacher's Passion and Win

(If you are a homeschooler or part of a homeschool co-op, share your homeschooling teaching passions with us!)

Make a quick video (90 seconds or less), take a picture or create a graphic that explains what your teacher’s passion is all about.

If you are a teacher – make your own video or photo and share it with your students and parents. Remember, passion fuels passion.

Teacher Passion Project - Discover Your Teacher's Passion and Win

Then share your passion or your teacher’s passion with us in the comments below or use #SpanglerProject on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram or emaill us.

Submit your teacher’s passion by September 12th . Our staff will pick our favorites from all channels and ask our fans to vote on the finalists.

Finalists will be announced September 17th.
Voting will close September 24th.
Winner announced September 25th.

Teacher Passion Project - Get to know your teacher, discover their passion, make it a reality from Steve Spangler Science

One lucky teacher will receive a Virtual Science Workshop from Steve Spangler (a $250 value), $250 in materials and a $100 gift certificate to SteveSpanglerScience.com.

That’s a grand prize valued at $600!

Four runners up will receive the First Days of School Kit for their classroom along with a $25 gift certificate to Steve Spangler Science – a prize valued at $65!

Ease & Engage Your Students Back into the Learning Routine with  First Days of School Kit from Steve Spangler Science

So what are you waiting for? Get to know your teacher and discover their passions.

Hang on to those passions – we will have more throughout the year on the Teacher’s Passion Project. Keep watching our social channels and this blog for additional posts.

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**By submitting videos and photos to #SpanglerProject gives  permission for Steve Spangler Science to use and share on all of our social channels, website and blog.